Friday, April 20, 2012

Blogging from A to Z - R for Renenutet

Renenutet, "She Who Rears", was a cobra goddess of nursing or rearing children, fertility and protector of the pharaoh. Known as the "Nourishing Snake", she not only was a goddess who was sometimes shown nursing a child, but she offered her protection to the pharaoh in the land of the dead. In later times she was thought to be the goddess who presided over the eighth month of the Egyptian calendar, known by Greek times as Parmutit.

In the afterlife, Renenutet was seen as a fire-breathing cobra who was liked to Uatchet (Uatch-Ura, Wadjet). The was also seen by the Egyptians as the protector of the clothing worn by the pharaoh in the underworld, and thus thought to instill fear in his enemies. Because of this, she was also linked to mummy bandages, offering them to the dead. In Ptolemaic times, she was called "Lady of the Robes" due to her association with clothing.

O Osiris-Pepi, I bring you the Eye of Horus which is in Tait, this Renenutet-garment of which the gods respect, so that the gods may respect you like they respect Horus.
    -- Utterance 635, Pyramid of Pepi II
 In her role of fertility goddess, Renenutet was known as the "Lady of Fertile Fields" and "Lady of Granaries". She was thought to be responsible for looking after the harvest (this was probably because the Egyptians saw snakes hiding in the fields at harvest time), especially in the city of Dja (Modern Medinet Madi, Greek Narmouthis) where an annual festival was dedicated to her where she was offered the best yields of the crops. There was also often a shrine dedicated to her near a wine press or vat, so she could receive the offerings of the wine makers. She was both linked to Sobek and Osiris, and thought to be linked with Isis in her role as mother of Horus. She was believed to be the mother of Nepri, god of grain. She was also linked to the coming of the inundation and to Hapi, the god of the Nile:

I will make the Nile swell for you, without there being a year of lack and exhaustion in the whole land, so the plants will flourish, bending under their fruit. Renenutet is in all things - everything will be brought forth by the million and everybody ...... in whose granary there had been dearth. The land of Egypt is beginning to stir again, the shores are shining wonderfully, and wealth and well-being dwell with them, as it had been before.
    -- Famine Stele on the Island of Sehel
    She was depicted either as a woman, a cobra or a woman with the head of a cobra (and sometimes the head of a lioness), wearing a double plumed headdress or the solar disk. Her cult centre was located at Kom Abu Billo (Terenuthis, Tarrana) in Greco-Roman times. Amenemhet III and Amenemhet IV founded the temple of Renenutet at Medinet Maadi - this temple is one of the only temples left at Medinet Maadi, and was dedicated to the triad of Renenutet, Sobek and Horus. Later, the Ptolemaic rulers added to and expanded the temple. Inside was a large statue of the goddess with both Amenemhet III and IV standing on either side of her. She was the protector of the Egyptian people, the nurse of pharaohs and goddess of the secret name of each Egyptian.

    So long my friends,

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